Xiaomi may be the darling of tech publications when they look to the Chinese smartphone market, but let's not forget that Meizu is the real pioneer of community-centric phone brands. As such, Meizu is sparing no effort to one-up its arch rival with its latest flagship phone, the MX4, as announced in Beijing earlier today. Thanks to the MediaTek MT6595 SoC, we're looking at an octa-core (four 2.2GHz A17 and four 1.7GHz A7) device that can connect to both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE networks right out of the box, thus beating the Xiaomi Mi 4 whose LTE variants aren't due until end of this year. More importantly, the MX4 manages to undercut the 3G-only Mi 4 by about $16 to $33 off-contract, depending on the storage capacity.

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Meizu MX4 launch

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Meizu MX4 hands-on

Like its predecessor, the MX4's 5.36-inch IPS screen maintains an unorthodox 5:3 aspect ratio, but with a slightly bumped-up resolution of 1,920 x 1,152. Compared to the standard 16:9 smartphones these days, the MX4 benefits from an eye-friendlier home screen as the icons are more spread out, plus the wider body can accommodate a slightly bigger pop-up video player -- a feature on Meizu's Flyme OS 4.0, which is a heavily but prettily customized Android 4.4 ROM -- when you're holding the phone in the usual portrait mode. The screen also takes up 79 percent of the phone's front side and has a narrow 2.6mm bezel, both of which look rather impressive. Meizu added that it's co-developed a screen sealant with Loctite that helps absorb shock impact, in order to reduce the chances of shattering one's screen when the MX4 hits the floor.

Despite the large screen, the MX4 is actually a phone I've enjoyed holding the most in its size category. First of all, it's only 147 grams heavy and 8.9mm thick (yet it still packs a built-in 3,100mAh battery) thanks to its aircraft-grade aluminum body -- one that claims to be harder than that of the iPhone 5s. Secondly, the MX4 carries an ergonomic curvature that's similar to that on the MX3, so there are no edges that would otherwise dig into the palm. To get to the MX4's Micro SIM slot, you can now simply peel off the flexible back cover, as opposed to using a pin to push and peel the hard cover off the MX3. The downside of that is you may feel the seam between the aluminum frame and the plastic cover, so hopefully the final production units will have a tighter fit.

Last but not least, the MX4 packs a 20.7-megapixel f/2.2 main camera and a 2-megapixel f/2.0 front-facing camera. While the latter's resolution is rather disappointing, it does offer a live beautification mode, which lets you preview the enhancements on your eyes, chin and skin before taking selfies. As for the main camera, its 1.2μm pixels will apparently handle dark environments just fine, plus its speedy image signal processor can handle 25 fps continuous shooting in 10-megapixel mode, 720p slow motion capture and even 30 fps 4K video capture. For the icing on the cake, there's a dual tone LED flash for better results when using flash.

The MX4 will be launching on September 20th globally, though only China prices are available at the moment: The 16GB model is just CN¥1,799 (about $290), whereas the 32GB flavor is CN¥1,999 (about $325), and the 64GB model costs CN¥2,399 (about $390). Pretty aggressive, right? And for the record, only the gray edition will be available to begin with, followed by a white edition and a gold edition. Much like the Smartisan T1, you can also purchase a liquid plus screen protection warranty for just CN¥89 (about $15) per year.

Meizu MX4 Meizu MX3
Dimensions 144 x 75.2 x 8.9 mm 139.0 x 71.9 x 9.1 mm
Weight 147g 143g
Screen size 5.36 inches 5.1 inches
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,152 (418 ppi) 1,800 x 1,080 (415 ppi)
Screen type IPS LCD IPS LCD
Battery 3,100mAh (non-removable) 2,400mAh (non-removable)
Internal storage 16GB / 32GB / 64GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB / 128GB (China Mobile only)
External storage None None
Rear camera 20.7MP Sony IMX220, f/2.2, 1.2μm 8MP Sony IMX179, f/2.0, 1.4μm
Front-facing cam 2MP Sony IMX208, f/2.0 2MP Sony
Video capture Up to 4K 30fps 1080p 30fps
NFC None Yes (except for 16GB version)
Radios Up to LTE GSM/GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA/HSPA+
Bluetooth v4.0 v4.0
SoC 2.2GHz A17 x 4 + 1.7GHz A7 x 4 octa-core MediaTek MT6595; PowerVR G6200 GPU 1.6GHz A15 x 4 + 1.2GHz A7 x 4 octa-core Samsung Exynos 5410; PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU
RAM 2GB 2GB
SIM slot Micro SIM Micro SIM
WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac 802.11b/g/n
Audio Unknown Wolfson WM5102; triple-mic noise reduction
Operating system Android 4.4, Flyme OS 4.0 Android 4.2, Flyme OS 3.0